Smog across Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore is disrupting travel,schools and forcing people to seek medical help.
More than 135,000 Indonesians are reported to be suffering from respiratory diseases. This widespread pollution is caused by slash-and-burn farming in Indonesia’s northern islands of Sumatra and Kalimantan.
At the heart of the problem are Palm oil plantation owners, who use the slash-and-burn techniques to clear forests and meet rising global demand for the oil.
Governments’ efforts to tackle the issue have so far failed. This year, the lengthy dry season in Indonesia has been worsened by the El Nino weather effect, making it harder to contain the fires in the absence of rains that usually arrive in November.
Indonesia has already spent millions and deployed thousands of firefighters and several water-bombing planes in its efforts to put out the fires.
Footage shot early on Monday morning showed buildings shrouded in haze. The 3-hour Pollution Standards Index (PSI) in the city-state rose to 118 in the south of the country, A PSI reading above 100 indicates air pollution has reached an “unhealthy” level.